LAUSD needs to meet now with labor groups to ‘save the district,’ board member says
Mike Szymanski | October 12, 2017
LA Unified urgently needs a sit-down with union representatives to make sure everyone is on the same page about the budget before the district falls off a fiscal “cliff,” longtime school board member Richard Vladovic said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“Our labor partners see the budget differently from the way we do, and I would like to see the chief financial officer talk to our labor partners. Because when I talk to labor partners, and they may be right, they say we have more money than we say we have or we don’t spend it correctly,” said Vladovic, who celebrated 50 years in education this year and is serving his third term on the board.
“We are all one family, and if we don’t do this, we will all crash together,” Vladovic said. “This is a way to save the district.”
Acting superintendent Vivian Ekchian agreed to work on getting a meeting arranged for next week.
The call for a meeting came on the eve of protests held Wednesday at more than two dozen schools by United Teachers Los Angeles, according to pictures posted on the UTLA Twitter account with the hashtag #UTLAPicket4Power. Wednesday and Thursday are also bargaining negotiation days, according to the teacher union.
The school board passed a $7.5 billion budget for the 2017-18 school year, but those costs, combined with other long-term expenses like pension contributions, threaten the district’s solvency. By the 2019-20 school year, the district faces a $422 million deficit.
Vladovic said the information session that he seeks could also include charter advocates, who often come to board meetings with different interpretations of the budget.
“The bottom line is, I would like to see some dialogue that is honest and intense,” Vladovic said. “I hate it when people come in and refute what we say or you say. Let’s all get together and get figures straight and march together, or we will all fall off this cliff.”
Board President Mónica García asked Ekchian if she could “help build the platform that all would understand together.”
Ekchian said she looks forward to doing it within the next week.
“We need to sit down and talk, not in negotiation, just talk,” Vladovic said. “We need to work together to save this place.”
“I look forward to it,” Ekchian responded.
“You cannot allow ‘yes but’ in those conversations,” Vladovic added.
“Understood!” said Ekchian.